The SmarK Rant for Clash of Champions VI – RAGIN’ CAJUN (04.02.89)
Live from New Orleans, LA, in a very empty Superdome. The show was such a flop that it actually cost booker George Scott his job.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Michael Hayes
I was debating this one all afternoon but in the end I decided I really wanted to keep going with the Flair-Steamboat series, even if the show is missing the tag title match on the Network version.
Apparently the WWF had some other show going on at this point. Unfortunately this particular war didn’t work out well for either side, as Clash VI bombed and the cable companies told both companies never to try that particular tactic again.
We take a look at some legends having dinner with Jim Herd. I wonder if he served them Taco Bell?
So they run through a video showing all the people wrestling tonight, which I definitely don’t remember from the many times I watched the tape previously.
The Midnight Express v. The Samoan Swat Team
The Original Midnights are gone and the SST are the new hotness being managed by Paul E. Dangerously to continue the Cornette feud. It’s a pretty big downgrade, sadly, and the SST just never fit with Paul. Samu beats on Lane to start, but misses a bodypress and Lane gets his own for two. The SST tries to double-team Lane in their corner, but Stan escapes and offers a little dancing. Well that’s nice of him. The Samoans try another double-team and that backfires as the Express double-teams Fatu instead. Eaton with a missile dropkick and Lane goes to a chinlock while Cornette runs out and hits Samu with the tennis racket while the ref was distracted. I can’t condone that kind of cheating, actually. Lane and Eaton work the arm, but Fatu beats on Lane with SAMOAN KARATE and Samu comes in as Lane gets a sunset flip for two. Samu gets flustered and hits his own partner by mistake, so the SST regroups and Paul gives Fatu his phone to talk to someone and calm down. The fact that it’s clearly just a cordless landline phone that’s not connected to anything is the kind of ridiculous touch that made the character so great. I always remember one of Paul’s shoot interview sessions at Cyberslam where something comes up where he needs to call someone and he quips “Does anyone have a cell phone?” and cracks up the audience. The Express double-teams Fatu and Bobby gets a backdrop and a small package for two. The Express switches off with a headlock behind the ref’s back, which I THINK was subtle foreshadowing that they weren’t the babyfaces they were pretending to be all that time. Michael Hayes is pretty good on commentary here, like when JR notes that they’re off to Florida for some shows next and Michael jumps in with “Yeah, I’ve got a bunch of broads waiting for me down there.” Bobby gets caught in the Samoan corner and choked out as the announcers stress that THIS IS THE NWA AND WE WRESTLE. There was literally another more famous show called “WRESTLEMANIA” on at the same time, guys. You might wrestle but your branding sucks. Samu works the dreaded Vulcan nerve pinch on Bobby and Fatu cuts off a comeback with a cheapshot, leading to some double-teaming and a back elbow from Fatu for two. More nerve pinching and a clothesline gets two. Samu slugs away on Eaton in the corner, but Bobby lunges over and makes the hot tag to Lane and it’s a PIER SIX BRAWL. The Express runs the SST together and that of course has no effect due to SCIENCE. Dangerously trips up Lane, but Cornette hits Fatu with the tennis racket behind the ref’s back, but he basically shrugs it off. They continue slugging it out and the SST beats Lane down in the corner before Fatu gets a powerslam for two. Back to the nerve pinch and THEY’RE STILL GOING? They’ve already missed the peak by a lot and now it’s just going needlessly long. SST with a double headbutt on Lane for two. Fatu beats Lane down in the heel corner for two and blocks a sunset flip for two. Fatu goes up and misses a diving headbutt, and it’s finally hot tag Eaton. So they do another melee and the SST collides, allowing Bobby to go up for the Rocket Launcher. But then Fatu hits Bobby with the phone and Samu gets the pin at 20:33. This was WAY too long and the Express just looked like a couple of fellas, and was just the start of an extended rough period for the Midnight Express that pretty much killed them off for good after a super-hot start to the year. DIdn’t hate this one, but it was a big letdown after the previous two months. **1/2 I know there were political reasons behind it, but it sucked to watch.
The Great Muta v. Steven Casey
At this point Muta is the son of the Great Kabuki, although didn’t they later amend that to “nephew” instead? Muta immediately spews Casey with the green mist and follows with the handspring elbow, but Casey manages an armdrag. Muta gets him into the corner and hits a standing mule kick for a cool spot, and then goes up and follows with a missile dropkick. Muta rubs more of the deadly green spew into Casey’s eyes and takes out the leg. Muta with a spinkick and he works a nerve hold as this another one dragging on way past the peak. Later on they figured that Muta squashing geeks in a minute with the moonsault was the way to go. Casey fights back with a clothesline and makes the comeback with an elbow for two. Casey misses a dropkick and Muta kicks him to the floor and follows with a pescado, and then a handspring elbow into the railing. Back in, the backbreaker sets up the MOONSAULT to finish at 8:10. Too long by 7 minutes but that finish was HOT. ** Total one-man show by Muta, who was leagues beyond everyone else at the time.
Junkyard Dog v. Butch Reed
They cut out the tag title match but leave THIS intact? There was serious question about whether JYD even had a job at this point, since he had no-showed the past couple of weeks’ worth of shows and everyone just assumed he was fired. Jim Ross wishes all the best to all the fans watching in Connecticut. HAR HAR. Because they have a house show coming up in New Haven, you see. HAR HAR. JYD hits Reed with a SOUP BONE and JR is like “OMG, Reed also uses soup bone rights!” Reed bails to think over all the bones and JYD hits him with headbutts on the way into the ring and chases him out again. Back in, Dog works the arm, but Butch beats on him in the corner with more SOUP BONES until Dog slams him to escape all the soup boning. Reed slugs him down and stomps away, then drops an elbow for two and goes to the chinlock. The SOUP BONE CHINLOCK, perhaps? Dog escapes with a backdrop for two and they collide for the double down. Reed goes up and gets caught coming down, but a second try hits the flying shoulderblock for two, as JYD is in the ropes. Hiro Matsuda yells at the ref to distract him, and Dog runs Reed into Matsuda for the pin at 9:00. So the lesson here: Go on a crack binge for two weeks and get put over because you drew a crowd a decade earlier. Wrestling in a nutshell for ya. DUD
US tag team titles: Rick Steiner & Eddie Gilbert v. Dan Spivey & Kevin Sullivan
I guess we’re omitting both the World tag title match and Murdoch v. Orton AND Ranger Ross v. Iron Sheik in this version. Weird. Spivey immediately attacks Gilbert and gets a gut wrench and tilt-a-whirl slam, and Sullivan throws Eddie to the floor and beats on him out there. The Varsity Club double-teams Eddie and Spivey gets a clothesline for two and hangs him in the Tree of Woe, but Sullivan misses a blind charge and Steiner gets the hot tag. Rick slugs away and powerslams Spivey for two, into a belly to belly for two. They all fight to the floor, but Gilbert grabs Missy Hyatt’s loaded purse and hits Sullivan for the pin at 4:00. Nothing to this one. *1/2 The heels brutalize Eddie to set up the rematch at WrestleWar and then the US tag titles were abandoned for a couple of years.
NWA World title: Ricky Steamboat v. Ric Flair
WCW in a nutshell:
This of course is best 2 out of 3 falls like in the old days. Terry Funk joins JR on commentary to foreshadow the next big thing for Flair.
Steamboat hauls off with a bitchslap of Flair to start and they take it to the mat for some amateur wrestling before Flair makes the ropes. So Steamboat gives him ANOTHER smack in the corner. Dragon grabs a headlock, but Flair reverses to a wristlock and Steamboat powers out of it. Flair claims the hairpull and bails to regroup for a bit. Back in, Steamboat takes him down with a headlock and Flair rolls him over for two. Flair gets to the corner for the break and they trade BONE RATTLING chops before Steamboat gets the flying headscissors and dropkick and goes back to the headlock again. Flair takes it to the corner to break again and then gets a cheapshot and more chops are exchanged. Steamboat with the backdrop out of the corner and a dropkick gets two. Flair hides in the corner and then gets another cheapshot, but Steamboat rolls him up for two. Steamboat hits a rebound lariat on Flair’s kick out and goes back to the headlock to control Flair on the mat. Steamboat works the neck with a front facelock and throws more chops in the corner, which gives us a Flair Flop for two. Atomic drop and more chops get two, and Flair bails to the floor again to think it over. Steamboat throws chops on the apron and suplexes Flair back in, but a splash hits the knees and Flair hits the double stomp to take over. Butterfly suplex gets two and Flair works the count but just can’t hold him down. Steamboat kips up into a test of strength for an awesome visual, and they exchange chops, but Steamboat misses a dropkick this time and Flair goes for the figure-four. Steamboat cradles for two, but Flair reverses for the pin at 19:28 to win the first fall.
We return from break with Flair much more confident now, but Steamboat quickly gets a press slam and the flying chop for two. Steamboat with the facelock, but Flair escapes with a back suplex and drops a knee on him. A second one misses and Steamboat goes to work on the knee, dropping elbows relentlessly, I think twenty of them, on the knee to set up the figure-four. And then we get a fantastic visual of Flair sitting up in the hold and Steamboat chopping him down for a two-count a few times. Flair makes the ropes, so Steamboat yanks him out and tries it again, and then turns him over into the Boston crab instead. Flair makes the ropes, so Tommy Young holds off Steamboat while Ric recovers and hides in the corner, and Steamboat pounds him with chops until Flair grabs a headlock to slow him down. Steamboat bridges into the backslide for two, but Flair bails and pulls Steamboat into the railing and adds a slam on the floor. Back in, Flair necks him on the top rope and brings him back in with a suplex for two. Abdominal stretch into the rollup gets two. And Flair keeps working the count, because much like Wednesday nights, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. At this point JR starts talking about an obscure rule where the winner of the first fall “is the champion”, which later led people online to think Flair was actually a six-time champion at this point. However, what the complete rule was supposed to be is that the winner of the first fall wins the title in the event that the remaining two falls go to a draw with only one fall decided. Steamboat with a rollup for two, but Flair sends him into the ropes. Steamboat with another rollup for two, but Flair chops him down for two. Flair goes up and gets brought down by Steamboat, which sets up the superplex, and now Steamboat goes to work on the back. This sets up a double chicken wing submission, and Flair submits at 34:11!
We return from break with Steamboat trying an abdominal stretch, but Flair clips the knee and they slug it out in the corner. Steamboat chops him down for two. Flair goes back to the knee again, but Steamboat fights back with chops, into a Flair Flip, and Steamboat clotheslines him during the run on the apron. Back in, Flair rolls him up in the corner with his feet on the ropes, and gets two. Back to the knee, as Dragon misses a charge and gets hung up in the corner. Flair destroys the knee and gets the figure-four off that and Funk is convinced that Steamboat is done. DONE. But he’s got MOXIE and keeps fighting and finally makes the ropes. He throws more chops while still selling the leg and whips Flair for another Flair Flip, but this time Flair completes the move and hits a top rope bodypress for two. Steamboat tries a slam and Flair falls on top for two, but Steamboat puts him down with a headbutt and his knee is still shot. He goes up top and gets the flying bodypress, but it only gets two. Elbow misses and Steamboat lands on his bad knee to put him down again. He comes back with a neckbreaker for two, but Flair tosses him out and Steamboat comes in with a sunset flip for two. Flair tries a sleeper and Young is about to RING THE BELL, but Steamboat gets his arm up (always a spot I miss) and comes back to run Flair into the turnbuckle and knock him out of the ring. Flair slips in from behind the takes out the leg again, but Steamboat hits him with an enzuigiri out of nowhere for two. Steamboat goes up again and misses a flying splash, and Flair goes after the knee again as it’s starting to become an obvious draw on the way. Flair beats on him with chops and keeps kicking the knee while laughing maniacally, but Steamboat fights back with chops to make the comeback. Flair tries an atomic drop, but Steamboat lands on his feet and clotheslines him for two. Flair cuts him off with a back suplex and he decides to go to the top now, but Steamboat cuts him off and slams him down. He tries another double chicken wing, but Steamboat’s knee buckles and Flair falls backwards, and they’re both apparently pinned at 54:50. But Steamboat’s shoulder is slightly up, and he retains the title. This was like the best stuff from their 1984 draw that I just reviewed, combined with the best stuff from the Chicago match. Nuttiness with star rating inflation these days aside, this is probably still the greatest wrestling match in history, although I love all three matches in the trilogy for different things. *****
Afterwards, Ricky Steamboat tries to declare the Flair feud over and lets us know that he’s ready to move onto other challengers, but a replay of the finish shows that Flair’s foot was in the ropes, so Ricky admits that Flair deserves one last rematch.
Well, I certainly do wish that this was the complete show on the Network. With the Teddy Long turn in the tag title match, it makes Clash VI into one of the best Clash shows ever, but this version on the Network is mostly just about the one match. Either way, it’s a recommendation.